“𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐭𝐰𝐨 𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐩𝐫𝐢𝐝𝐞, 𝐛𝐨𝐭𝐡 𝐠𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐛𝐚𝐝. ‘𝐆𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐩𝐫𝐢𝐝𝐞’ 𝐫𝐞𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐬 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐝𝐢𝐠𝐧𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟 𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐜𝐭. ‘𝐁𝐚𝐝 𝐩𝐫𝐢𝐝𝐞’ 𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐝𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐥𝐲 𝐬𝐢𝐧 𝐨𝐟 𝐬𝐮𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐨𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐫𝐞𝐞𝐤𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐜𝐞𝐢𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐚𝐫𝐫𝐨𝐠𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞.”
-𝐉𝐨𝐡𝐧 𝐂. 𝐌𝐚𝐱𝐰𝐞𝐥𝐥
The lecture Mr. Pubbs was droning on about was something I had already learned before. I sat in his class day after day learning the same thing from middle school. The education system was very much in need of reform.
My eyes surveyed the classroom taking into the account of everyone there. Penny Smartz was drawing in her sketch book again. For a last name that held such a promising trait the girl was dumber than Patrick Star. Behind her the power couple of the school whose names I never bothered to learn were making out once again. She was straddling his lap while his hand was stuck up her shirt moving animatedly underneath. They were disgusting to see, no one can be that desperate to suck each other’s face off.
“Thing one and thing two back at it again.” I heard someone mutter beside me. I turned my attention towards the voice to see a girl with her hair in a tight puff and a black bandanna wrapped around her head.
“You seem bitter.” I didn’t have to respond to her but there were twenty minutes left to class with nothing for me to do.
She looked at me taking in my appearance and the boredom plastered on my face. We both knew neither of us cared what the other had to say. “Hardly.”
“You could have fooled me.”
“I wear hearing aids in my right air because of an infection when I was young. Hearing their mouths constantly smack against one another makes me go crazy.”
I nodded ready to go back to looking around the class. She had answered my question and that was as far as either of us could take this. It was times like these I wish I was more conversational, like what do you do after the conversation is over? Continuing past it when there’s nothing to talk about is draining for both parties.
Then I quickly realized how stupid I was being and turned back towards her.
“Do you know who Dre is? Or well hear about him?”
It seemed she wasn’t going to answer for a minute until she leaned towards me, lowering her voice even further. “Who told you that name?”
Was I not suppose to know?
“I heard it from someone.” She looked extremely worried. I watch as she hastily opened her notebook to an empty sheet. She scrawled on to the paper each word seemingly unintelligible from her shaky hands.
She edged the notebook towards me allowing me to read.
𝘯𝘰 𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘪𝘴 𝘴𝘶𝘱𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘢𝘭𝘬 𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘩𝘪𝘮. 𝘺𝘰𝘶’𝘳𝘦 𝘯𝘦𝘸 𝘸𝘩𝘰 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳 𝘵𝘰𝘭𝘥 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘤𝘢𝘶𝘴𝘦 𝘴𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘰𝘶𝘴 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘣𝘭𝘦𝘮𝘴
I looked up to her as if she was an alien. Did I get sucked into a bad murder plot?
“Okay, but do you know anything.” The poor girl’s mouth just about hung to her lap. She must have been wondering if there was something wrong with me from the way I was blatantly ignoring her desperate attempt to warn me away from the topic.
“You have a death wish.” Her words hung in the air ominously. It would have done finally done its job to back me off on the topic of Dre if it wasn’t that she was already writing down everything she knew. I rolled my eyes. No surprise there at all, who could pass up the opportunity to gossip.
𝘛𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘸𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘥𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨. 𝘏𝘪𝘮 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘊𝘪𝘢𝘳𝘢 𝘨𝘪𝘳𝘭. 𝘉𝘶𝘵 𝘪𝘵 𝘴𝘦𝘦𝘮𝘦𝘥 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘸𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘩𝘪𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘪𝘵 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘴𝘰𝘯, 𝘐 𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘸𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘤𝘶𝘵𝘦. 𝘉𝘶𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘢 𝘸𝘦𝘦𝘬 𝘸𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘸𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘢𝘭𝘸𝘢𝘺𝘴 𝘢𝘳𝘨𝘶𝘪𝘯𝘨. 𝘏𝘦 𝘬𝘦𝘱𝘵 𝘵𝘦𝘭𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘴𝘩𝘦 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘸𝘳𝘰𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨. 𝘛𝘩𝘦𝘯 𝘣𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘯𝘦𝘹𝘵 𝘸𝘦𝘦𝘬 𝘩𝘦 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘢𝘭𝘸𝘢𝘺𝘴 𝘸𝘢𝘭𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘥 𝘴𝘤𝘩𝘰𝘰𝘭 𝘴𝘤𝘢𝘳𝘦𝘥. 𝘉𝘶𝘮𝘱𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘴 𝘫𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘰𝘧 𝘪𝘵. 𝘉𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘦𝘯𝘥 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘩 𝘩𝘦 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘨𝘰𝘯𝘦.
“The craziest thing, Ciara didn’t even care. When it went around he was missing she was just happy. Wouldn’t you be sad your boyfriend disappeared?”
“I’m pretty sure her name’s Cecile.”
“It still doesn’t make sense.” It didn’t not one bit neither was the fact that she offered nothing that I didn’t already know.
The bell rung right on time saving me from having to respond to her. “Well see ya.”
I gathered my books in my hand and threw myself out the class. I had a new found respect for Nancy Drew. Going around solving mysteries is no joke and I was doing a bad job at it.
I sighed restless and not understanding. At least school was over, I just wanted to go home.
As I made my way to my locker, I saw the unmistakable flicker of red standing by it as people walked in my line of sight.
Cautiously I approached her, the last few days leaving me confused on how to act. “Mickey!”
Cecile was smiling in front of me as if everything was okay. She had on a red skirt and a black tube top which was an outfit choice entirely unlike her. She was more of a sweats and over sized hoodie person.
“Hi..” I opened my locker my palms sweaty. There was always something about her that intimidated me, even from the first time we met.
“Did you miss me today?”
“Was I suppose to?” I took my jean jacket out of my locker before closing it and turning towards her.
“I missed you too.” Cecile looped her arms to mine pulling me forward in the direction of the door to leave school.
“Why did you even come? You were already gone the whole day.”
Her grip on me tightened as she spoke, “To make sure none of you are doing anything you’re not suppose to.”
I slowed my steps for a fraction contemplating whether I should make a run for it. Yet wouldn’t running indicate I was guilty of her concerns?
I did my best to mask my unsettling thoughts as I spoke, “So you found out I cheated on my quiz today.”
She grinned unaware of my fright. We came towards the parking lot and I saw Princesa and Damon already waiting in her car for us. Cecile’s grip on me was finally released as we went our separate ways; I sat in the front passenger seat as Cecile walked around the other side to drive.
Usually drives out with Cecile would be full of excitement. The music blasting as loud as it could go in the car, the vibrations between our feet causing a high that no drug could give. The time spent together as friends in perfect harmony were the moments I truly adored and lived for. Yet today wasn’t one of those moments.
Around fifteen minutes after Cecile had reversed out of the parking lot, we had hit the highway in the most intense silence I had ever had to endure. Unnaturally, no music was being played and no one, not even Princesa, had dared to ask for it. Cecile and Damon weren’t bickering over which song to choose and Princesa’s shrill screams from the wind frizzing up her hair were void. The windows were all up, leaving even the cool air blowing from the AC to feel hot in the uncomfortable space we were in.
“Where we going?” Boldly I broke the silence. I vaguely heard Princesa let out a deep breath from behind me.
“Shopping.” Cecile told me matter of factually.
“I’m happy you’re finally getting rid of your second hands.”
I don’t survive well in awkwardness, I have to joke or lighten the mood. That is who I am, but it only ever works when others join in with me. Damon on a typical day would fuel my comments and make the atmosphere more comfortable. Yet, he stayed mute in the back seat passing up the opportunity to make a jab at Cecile. The latter of which ignored me to continue driving.
Being home in the comfort of my bed would have been good by now however, I was not and since I wasn’t what the hell, why not be daring.
“Cecile do you know about Dre?” If only this was a movie to be able to play the sound effect of a record scratching.
All of a sudden she stomped on the brakes propelling us back into our seats, I watched her hands gripping the steering wheel before releasing. She looked around towards us.
“You guys okay? I thought I saw a dog or something.” We were on the highway surrounded with houses lining either side. it would have made sense if it wasn’t for the fences preventing the houses from being connected to the highway which means any dog coming from one of those houses would have to be as big as Clifford to get over here.
I looked at the mirror in the front to see Princesa visibly shaken up and Damon furiously playing with his pinky finger.
“Do you need your licensed revoked?” I asked uneasily. The sound of drivers behind us blaring their horns only added to my anxiety. Cecile shot me a look before starting the car back up allowing the train of cars behind us to continue moving.
“That’s my fault guys, I swore I saw something run across.” I can only imagine how my face looked with my lips scrunched up to my nose in disdain from her terrible lie.
I opened my mouth but was beat to it by Damon. “You asked about Dre? Right Mikita?”
I nodded the movement clear enough to see despite him being at the backseat.
“Why? You’re so curious about him these days.”
“Wouldn’t you be too? I mean I’ve moved here for about a year and a half and no one has ever spoke about him. It’s weird learning about it. Fascinated more like.”
“You need to mind your business.” Cecile fired back aggressively. Interesting.
In response I turned my body towards her in my seat to allow me to efficiently stare her down. “What’s it to you?”
She was back to gripping the steering wheel, eyes trained impeccably on the rode. “It doesn’t but you look like an idiot putting your nose in areas it doesn’t belong.”
“I guess this is another one of your morals like the one you told me: don’t care too much about the people around you.”
I tapped lightly on the book bag on my lap. “Because I wonder how far you take that viewpoint.”
Through gritted teeth she asked, “What are you getting at Mikita?”
“Nothing.” I smiled. “Does everyone here know your adventures at school?”
Cecile took the first turn off the high way speeding down the road. The car skidded on to the side of the road, the sound of the door beside me being unlocked. “Get the fuck out my car you rotten bitch!”
“Shut your trap Damon!”
Calmly, I unbuckled my seat belt taking in Cecile’s face tomato red in fury. In contrast, Princesa’s pink hue donning her cheeks was the clearest evidence of how uncomfortable and confused the entire ordeal must of been for her.
“Just to be clear, you’re upset because I asked about Dre?”
“I’m irritated at your lack of understanding. Mikita, you’re not that smart, it’s one of the reasons I became friends with you, you needed my help to fit in here but you must be letting the freedom I give you get to your head. Don’t mess with me, you don’t want to be around when I’m upset.”
I left the car wordlessly half scared but mostly very amused. Never in my lifetime would I have expected a teenager within my age range to believe they control my every move and actions. The freedom she lets me, hilariously baffling how deranged a person becomes when you view them through a different lens.
As my feet hit the pavement I actually started laughing. Wait. I wasn’t that smart, the one who transferred in with credits enough to land me AP. I mean sure I don’t enjoy the classes but who likes extra work, it’s a nuisance to deal with. Cecile thinks too highly of herself, walking with enough confidence to make even Hitler quiver at her feet. Whoever is fueling her ego needs to withdraw so the truth of her capabilities will be washed over her.
I heard another door close behind me as I closed the passenger side’s. Cecile walked over towards me determined, the next thing I saw was her hand flying towards my face.
⚈ ⚆ ⚈ ✷ ⚆ ⚈ ⚆
“This is why you don’t anger the bear.” The bag of ice was placed gently into my hand. Wincing, I placed it on my cheek and meekly sending a thanks to Ian.
She had left me holding the side of my face in astonishment. I didn’t think she would actually hit me. She literally did an entire hit and run on me, maybe I could sue.
“How was I suppose to know I would be abused?”
Immediately after she left, my face had swelled up painfully. I called Ian not knowing what to really do. He had picked me up, gracing me in the presence of the green car I could never find.
“You’re asking too many questions, you’re starting to seem suspicious.” Ian lazily laid back in the backseat. He had his car equipped with blankets and a pillow. I had questioned the weird set up and his only response was that sometimes home isn’t where the heart is and I understood completely.
There was a time when my mother fell deep into depression over dad’s death, everyday was drinking. She would come home with a man attached to her hips smiling wistful at the brown lazy boy dad would sit in every night. The longing only took her forward into the man’s arms, hands around his neck and me cowering from upstairs watching them on the chair defiling his memory.
Mom didn’t have to tell me the real reason we moved was because she couldn’t take the heartache anymore. All our previous house had were painful reminders of the life she use to have, of the life she could have continued having. In a way she was angry he was gone, that he left her in a life where everything felt empty and she felt alone.
“Honestly, I’m getting tired of this. Like do I really care enough what happened to that boy?”
“Why do you?”
“Because I would hope if I went missing someone looked for me too.” Maybe I was just insensitive but if I went missing I would want to stay gone. Chances are I’m the one who made me disappear.
“You said you liked Cecile, if-if she really did something...” I trailed off not really knowing how to finish my sentence. Yes, Cecile was being a bit pissy but I still couldn’t imagine her harming anyone in a way that would make them seem to be non existent.
Ian sighed, the sound of air escaping him was one of deep content. “This isn’t about me or my feelings, it’s about a student, someone’s son and his life that was gone without a trace.”
He was a very compassionate person, empathetic to the point where there was no reasoning. I couldn’t help contemplating if that was his strength or weakness.
“Which is why I need you to go to Keith’s party?”
You and everyone else it seems.
“I’m going to be out of town for that motel again, see if I can get someone to show me security cameras. But Keith and his friends know everything, Keith mostly.”
I nodded to myself, it seemed smart. It was the same thing that I had been thinking of, drunk teenagers were very honest and vulnerable. I wasn’t too sure about Ian going to the motel, it’s been so long, would they still have the footage?
“I’ll see what I can do.”
I placed the ice bag back on my cheek thinking a head towards Friday night and the secrets left to unearth.